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Discussion Guide

Paper Airplanes: A Novel

By Tabitha Forney

It’s the end of summer, 2001. Erin O’Connor has everything she’s ever dreamed of: good friends, a high-powered career at a boutique Manhattan firm, and a husband she adores. They have plans for their life together: careers, children, and maybe even a house in the country. But life has other plans. Daniel works on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center.

 

Erin is drinking margaritas on a beach in Mallorca, helping her best friend get over a breakup, when she hears a plane has crashed into Daniel’s building. On a television at the smoky hotel bar, she watches his building collapse. She makes her way home with the help of a stranger named Alec, and once there, she haunts Ground Zero, nearby hospitals, and trauma centers, plastering walls and fences with missing-person flyers. But there’s no trace of Daniel.

 

After accepting Daniel’s death, Erin struggles to get her life back on track but makes a series of bad decisions and begins to live her life in a self-destructive fog of booze and pills. It’s not until she hits rock bottom that she realizes it’s up to her to decide: Was her destiny sealed with Daniel’s? Or is there life after happily ever after?


This discussion guide and recommended reading was shared and sponsored in partnership with Tabitha Forney.

Discussion Questions

Use these discussion questions to guide your next book club meeting.

Did reading PAPER AIRPLANES help you understand the events of 9/11 better from an insider’s perspective?

How did you feel about Erin at the beginning of the book and how did your opinion of her changed by the end? Did you feel like her arc was well represented by the theme of lipstick?

After accepting Daniel’s death, Erin blames herself and engages in self-centered, self-destructive behavior. Do you think this was realistic of how people grieve their loved ones? Are there acceptable and universal ways to grieve, or do people experience grief in all sorts of ways?

PAPER AIRPLANES was a Good Morning America September book pick, and Zibby Owens selected the book for her Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast. In addition to the Good Morning America list, PAPER AIRPLANES has made several “Best Books of Fall” lists, including Women.com’s “Most Anticipated Books of Fall,” Women Writers, Women’s Books “Best Indie Books of Fall,” SheKnows.com’s “16 Books Coming Out This Fall We Can’t Wait to Read,” Getaway House’s Fall Reading List, and Book Trib’s “New and Indie Books in Honor of September Eleventh.” The book has been featured on multiple podcasts, blogs and news shows, including Fox 26 News, Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, the Storey Time Podcast, Thoughts from a Page podcast, The Write Review, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, The Culture Buzz Podcast with John Busbee, Author Stories with Hank Garner, Lone Star Literary Life, Chick Lit Central, WCBS News Radio 880 Author Talks, Sarahlyn Bruck’s blog, and Jean Book Nerd, just to name a few.